Dune: meeting with Rebecca Ferguson, the mother of the messiah

Dune: meeting with Rebecca Ferguson, the mother of the messiah

“To sum it up, playing Jessica was like playing a martial artist.”

In full promotion of the second part of Dune, Rebecca Ferguson was the subject of an unprecedented investigation by his fans: revealing thata movie star yelled at him during the filming of a film a few years ago, the leading actress of the latest Impossible mission had netizens searching for who the culprit was all week.

She will return this Sunday on television in the first opus of Dunea blockbuster for which First met her in 2021. We are sharing this interview again to wait until this wonderful cinema evening: TF1 will then program another film with this same actress, Reminiscencealso worn by Hugh Jackman.

Thanks to Denis Villeneuve, Dune enters the era of franchises (review)

Interview originally published on September 15, 2021.

Dune brings together a cast of box office demigods and demigoddesses: Oscar Isaac, Josh Brolin, Jason Momoa, Dave Bautista, Zendaya… And Rebecca Ferguson. Revealed by the historical series The White Queen and introduced to the world of blockbusters thanks to Tom Cruise who gave her the role of the spy Ilsa Faust in Mission: Impossible Rogue Nationthe actress of Swedish origin is groping for big shows (The Greatest Showman, Alex, the destiny of a king, Men in Black International) and found in Dune a perfectly fascinating character.

Lady Jessica, the concubine initiated into the mysteries of an order of mystical nuns seeking to create the galactic messiah through political-genetic manipulation… A mother and a fighting woman in whom Rebecca invests herself completely. We met the actress, extremely cool and relaxed, by Zoom, just after Denis Villeneuve.

Denis Villeneuve: “With Dune, I tried to make the most popular film possible”

We learn thanks to Dune that if you and Oscar Isaac have a son, he looks like Timothée Chalamet…
Not bad is not it ? That said, I know that the role of Paul was written especially for him. Denis called me by Skype and we talked for, pfff… at least an hour and a half. From his vision of Dune. I knew the film but not too much about the book, it's not my field. And there, finding yourself thrown into your passion, into your 14-year-old teenage dream… When someone talks to you about that with so much passion and love, it's complicated not to also fall in love with them.

Eric Roth, the screenwriter, told us that what Denis Villeneuve preferred in Duneit was the female characters.
Yes of course. I don't think he put us on a pedestal. He knows well that history cannot move forward without the Reverend Mothers of the Bene Gesserit. And you can feel it in the way he frames us, the way he puts a character in the shadows or the light… It was only when I saw the finished film that I realized that he was emphasizing on my silences – we shot from different angles. Even when Jessica is silent, she has a certain presence.

You can feel it, for example, in the scene of Paul's ordeal, with you and Charlotte Rampling…
(she takes a deep voice, and rolls the “r's”) The Gom Jabbar… It's a great name, isn't it?

Yes, and there are a lot of alien names like that in the universe of Dune. It seemed nice to say them…
We had to practice, believe me. It was not necessary to say “Awakis” but good “Arrrrakis”. Denis had a very precise idea of ​​how to say each word. We also had to learn an invented sign language. Oh, there are also “Frrrremen”especially not the “Fwemen”.

We come to the Voice: this power used by your character to give orders to others. It was all digital, right?
Yes of course. When we were shooting these kinds of scenes with the Voice, we didn't yet know what it was going to look like. I suggested making super loud noises. It did not work. (laughs) Fortunately, Denis simply told me to speak normally, but with determination. And that he was going to tinker with all that in post-production. OK, but I couldn't resist showing them my best Donald Duck impersonation.

What were you doing, specifically? Were you shouting? Did you do a weird accent?
In fact, I was going out of my voice range. We all have a register, a level “neutral”and as soon as you can identify it, you can step out of that register at will and create a bizarre impression.

And you have that in your acting tool kit. You learned this on The Greatest Showman ?
No, I work with all kinds of coaches: for voice, languages… They give themselves all kinds of different names. I went to music school when I was young, but that doesn't teach you anything about using your voice as an actress. Control of breath and position can only be learned with years of practice. And a good dose of curiosity.

Speaking of The Greatest Showmanwould you like to do a musical again?
(silence) Yes. But it depends on the director. And the theme. I can't take myself too seriously, I find it difficult to do a musical because it's something very serious, like in opera you have to make your emotions sing…

Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation: Rebecca Ferguson is the other star of the film

Did you find the role of Dame Jessica difficult to play, or was it natural?
If I found it too natural, then that meant that I had to work a little harder to find the character, to subtly define it. How to say ? Take my approach. It's easy to be hired for a role just for your presence, so you walk normally, you don't do anything extra. And yet, you have to think about how you breathe, how you look, and how you walk. I had to break my mold, actually. That was hard. Finding a way to be fragile, then angry, then dominate Paul into submission, then choose his own path.

Precisely, to return to the scene of “gom jabbarrrr”
Well pronounced!

How I would like to speak French. English is so polite. There's such a dose of I-don't-care (“fuckoffness”) in French.

So in this scene you go through a very wide range of emotions, you are bossy, angry, scared, submissive…
Yes, the filming was very “schizophrenic”. I'm kidding. But yes, we had to shoot over several days. And this scene shows all sides of Jessica. Not easy to do. To sum it up, playing Jessica was like playing a martial artist. But she is also the mother of a potential messiah, who can lead the universe into chaos and destruction. She knows it. She is strong, but she is vulnerable. This is what it's like to be the mother of (she rolls the “r's”) “kwisatz haderrrach”

Well pronounced!
THANKS. But deep down, Jessica is afraid, she feels love for her son and she is afraid for him. That's the key, that's why there is this litany against fear that keeps coming back…

Dune was filmed extensively in “hard”with real decorations.
I haven't shot a lot of green screen films, and I say to myself that's fine: if I don't believe what I see, how are you, the audience, going to believe it?

And compared to the filming of a Impossible mission ?
I'm not comparing the shooting of these two films… But Impossible mission, it's physical, tense, explosive, boom, bang, quickly, run, jump, hide, jump! Additionally, Tom (Cruise) and Chris (McQuarrie) bring more and more depth to the characters in the series. Denis takes us more into an indie film feeling, with a tighter team.

Otherwise you don't find that Dune has a soap opera side?
(She bursts out laughing) If that makes you happy! Well done, that’s good journalism. Thank you good night !

No, but since you starred in a soap opera in Sweden when you were young, I was wondering if you were ready to play Lady Jessica for years…
I'm crossing my fingers to play in the sequels Dune, but we'll see what happens, because for the moment nothing has been done… But playing like in a soap opera, the same thing all the time, all year round? Pfff… Kill me. NOW. (laughs) I need movement! That said, OK, TV series have a phenomenal level of quality today… but compare Dune soap opera? There, frankly, no. Soap is synonymous with a style, imagery, flat lighting, cheap and easy dialogue… That's what soap opera is all about.

But it's also drama, family plots, blood…
Of course. Okay, now I'm going to tell Denis Villeneuve that you are comparing Dune to soap opera.

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